Remember that ‘bureau-crazy’ I mentioned in an earlier post? Well, it’s delayed the research schedule a bit, but I am finally now in Pekanbaru (the capital of Riau, Province), after three weeks in Jakarta waiting on permits. Jakarta was not as bad as many had warned me in the past. I had nice accommodations and was able to scratch my western-food itch a bit. The traffic was bad, though, and the occasional flooding did not help alleviate it.

Collecting my entrance permits. At the Ministry of Environment and Forestry
Collecting my entrance permits. At the Ministry of Environment and Forestry
Flooding made getting around to permitting offices a bit more time consuming.
Flooding made getting around to permitting offices a bit more time consuming.

Pekanbaru is also not as bad as I was told. I was here a few years ago, but that was my first time in Indonesia and I didn’t know what the standards were or what to expect. So far, I have found Pekanbaru much cleaner than cities elsewhere in Indonesia. There are not large piles of trash everywhere, and the wide streets have medians with trees and grass. The air, however, is perhaps not quite as clean. I arrived to the thickest sky I’ve seen in a while. Apparently there are fires burning all around the province. This is worrisome to me, but I’ll have to wait until I get out into the field and see what’s happening to make any judgments.

Clouds on the way to Riau. Indonesian skies are the most beautiful. (No, this is not the smoke/haze I speak of, only true Sumatran beauty)
Clouds on the way to Riau. Indonesian skies are the most beautiful. (No, this is not the smoke/haze I speak of, only true Sumatran beauty)

 

Landing in Riau
Landing in Riau

I have also done a nearly completesurvey of all the grocery stores in town, and have found many imported western food items probably thanks to a large Chevron oil based here. (Unfortunately).

IMG_2271
Taco shells! In Pekanbaru!

 

The good folks at the WWF office here have taken me in, set me up with desk space, helped me find a house to use as a home base while not in the field and hopefully, by the end of today I’ll have a motorbike.

Home
Home

I am very excited and anxious to get to the field. I finished language classes more than a month ago now, and thought I’d be in the field the following week. I didn’t know I’d have to go through the entire permitting process again just due to a secretarial error. And my permits are still not 100% finished, but they are complete enough to begin field work. This has been a very good lesson in patience. Things move more slowly here than in the US, and that’s okay. The internet is slow, technology is not the best here so life is different. I am a foreigner here and have no control over the process. I have been spending this time grant-writing, reading and making headway on some remote sensing work. I try to be as productive as I can everyday, making sure I am doing my necessary part to this project, and bit by bit it will come together. Hopefully by the end of this week, I’ll be in Tesso Nilo!

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